LAS VEGAS – The burning down his left shoulder and arm is painful, and D.V. Fennell winces every time he completes a bareback ride at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
“It hurts, there’s no doubt about it,” said Fennell of Neosho, Mo., a two-time qualifier to ProRodeo’s championship. “That horse hit me pretty hard right out of the chute, and he hurt me. It’s one thing to know when you’re about to get punched in the jaw, then you can keep fighting, and that’s what happened in the ride.”
Fennell is talking about the Classic Pro Rodeo horse Lady’s Man, an animal that used a strong kick to aggravate a pinch nerve in the bareback rider’s upper back. Still, the Utah-born, Oklahoma-raised cowboy kept “punching” back at the bucking horse with his spur lick, the motion bareback riders use, spurring from the animal’s neck to the rigging that’s strapped to the bronc’s back.
“That’s just what you’ve got to do,” Fennell said. “I can’t back down.”
The 81-point ride finished in a tie for sixth place in the go-round and was worth $942. It marked just the second time in a week Fennell has earned a paycheck at the NFR – he placed sixth in Saturday’s third go-round and has earned $3,766. With three rounds remaining in this year’s finale, there are plenty of opportunities to add to that total.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going to do something special,” Fennell said. “There’s definitely no quit in me, and this thing’s not going to end without me winning a go-round.”
Confidence is a good thing, especially when it’s in the middle of a championship.